Here are some more details from an Alcatel press release. Operationally, the new entity comprises three business units. Spacecom gathers the Alcatel share holdings in commercial satellite systems, including stakes in SkyBridge, TE.SA.M., Euteltracs and Europe Star. Space Industries manages all the industrial and R&D resources in Europe (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland). The third business unit designs and produces civil and defense earth stations and space communications ground systems.
According to Alcatel, the strategy for development of Alcatel in space will focus on three main areas. They are, in the company's own words:
the use of its comprehensive know-how in satellite telecommunications systems: space segment (payloads and platforms), ground segment (earth stations and system engineering) and associated services (launch and in-orbit control). The offer thus includes completely integrated turnkey satellite telecommunications systems for telephony, television, radio, data transmission, localisation and air navigation applications. It can also comprise the promotion, design, financing and, if necessary, operation of those systems, as shown by the SkyBridge example;
the development, thanks to is expertise in optical or radar observation and image processing instrumentation, of observation and scientific programs: Earth observation, meteorology, environment and Solar system discovery. In this respect, the strong European base of Alcatel's space business will help to reinforce its co-operation with space agencies, in particular the European Space Agency;
the positioning as one of the major players for new European defense satellite telecommunications and observation programs. This positioning benefits by its experience as prime contractor for the French defense satellite telecommunications system Syracuse.
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Constellation is developing a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite system to provide affordable voice, data and other communications services to mobile and fixed-site users throughout the world.
Under the terms of this agreement, Orbital will begin construction of the satellites based on one of Orbital's three-axis stabilised satellite platforms. Each satellite will generate more than 2000 watts of power and will weigh about 500 kilograms.
The satellites to be manufactured by Orbital represent the first of two phases of satellites authorised for Constellation in July 1997 by the U. S. Federal Communications Commission. The initial phase of satellites will form a single ring around the Equator at an altitude of approximately 2000 kilometers with a coverage area of more than 75 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This area contains nearly one-quarter of the world's population, less than two percent of whom have access to telephone service. Scheduled to be constructed and operational by the end of 2001, the Constellation satellite network will provide voice and data services to subscribers via hand-held, vehicle-mounted or stationary telephones. Constellation will supplement this system with forty-two additional satellites, providing complete global service by 2003.
Constellation's shareholders include Bell Atlantic, SpaceVest, Raytheon, and Orbital.
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The offering consists of Fiduciary Depositary Receipts (FDRs), with each FDR issued in respect of one underlying A share. SES said it would not receive any proceeds from the offering. The FDRs will be listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and will also be quoted on SEAQ International in London.
The pricing of LUF6,000 (US$160) means that SES is currently valued at LUF 223.4 billion (US$6 billion) at the offer price. The offering was more than six times oversubscribed, SES said in a statement.
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After a meeting of Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and the head of the Russian Space Agency, Yuri Koptev, Nemtsov's office said the government would repay the US$600 million it owes for Mir's operations last year. That would let the space programme "breathe freely for a while," and allow it to bring Mir back to Earth "in a civilised fashion, without crashing," said Space Agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov.
He added that money would come from unspecified "nonbudgetary sources," and that "lots of things remain unclear: just what sources specifically it would come from, who would allocate the money."
Apart from that it's still unclear whether the next crew can go up as planned in Mid-August: "For five days, we have been unable to work at Baikonur, because our electricity has been turned off for non-payment," Yuri Semyonov, head of the state-run RKK Energiya company was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass.
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State Department spokesman James Rubin cited "information that has recently been brought to our attention that we're not at liberty to discuss publicly" for the move. There has been some speculation it may be related to the role of Shen Jun, a satellite project manager and computer scientist with Hughes. Shen, a Canadian citizen since 1994, is the son of Lt. Gen. Shen Rongjun, a former senior official in the Chinese government organisation that oversees high-tech military development programs. Shen Jun is in the United States on a work visa and is applying for a permanent green card.
That does not seem to be the problem. Customs officials were quoted as saying they were not only investigating whether Shen assisted the Chinese but especially whether he gained access to sensitive technology on his own that went beyond the bounds of Hughes' license.
That may just be a smoke screen. As reported earlier, the satellite's antenna--although significantly smaller--resembles that of advanced U.S. electronic interception (Elint) satellites such as Trumpet.
The problem is that the 12.25-meter L-band antenna might provide the Chinese military with enhanced communications capabilities. The deal was originally okayed by the Clinton administration in 1996 after determining that China could acquire the same satellite technology from Europe anyway. [In that case, Europe says "thank you for your business."]
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It's not that NBC Europe was a success in Germany--nothing could be farther from the truth. Nonetheless, existing broadcast and cable licenses made it become an interesting take-over target after NBNC decided to put an end to its costly European adventure. As one of the first satellite channels in Europe, it had no problems finding some space in cable networks that are overcrowded today (such as in Germany) but ten years ago were looking for something to offer their customers.
If I'm not completely mistaken, the channel started out as "Musicbox" at least ten years ago and later was taken over by an Italian company. The music channel became a pan-European entertainment channel by the name of Superchannel. A few years ago, U.S. network NBC bought and renamed it. All those years, the channel has never been successful which isn't necessarily just a language problem: even in the UK it was not overly popular.
Current plans are that most viewers of NBC Europe will get a blend of CNBC Europe and National Geographic Television of the U.S. on Eutelsat II-F1 until September 1 when the channel will move to Astra 2A (which should also mean it will be be broadcast digitally.) It will also be carried on the Canal Digital bouquet and on cable networks.
NBC Europe to become Giga TV?
You may have heard that NBC Europe will continue in Germany which is only part of the truth. It targets not only the German-speaking countries but also Poland and the Czech Republic. There will be some NBC programming, there will be some CNBC programming, but there will also be entertainment programmes produced by DFA.
The company said in a press release that an innovative entertainment programme by the name of Giga TV would become the channel's highlight as from November 1. "Giga TV, produced in Düsseldorf, connects television and the Internet and is to be broadcast in German and English." (Giga TV is to my knowledge in no way related to a Japanese channel by the same name.)
Now, finally, we get to the core of the issue. DFA has been planning an own satellite and cable channel by the name of Giga TV for at least three years and even had no problems in receiving a satellite license almost exactly two years ago. Back then, it was more or less announced as a channel for computer freaks. [I don't really know whether they've ever tried to actually launch it. Maybe it's hidden in some digital package--I couldn't care less.]
According to DFA, the channel would offer ten million computer users in Germany a broad-based information, education and entertainment programme. "In a daily Internet show, Giga TV highlights what's new on the world's largest computer network, brings you reports on hardware and software developments and provides training courses for key computer programs. What's more, via the Internet, viewers can take part in open discussion sessions and play an interactive role in shaping what they watch." [Yawn! Somebody wake me up when it's over.]
Commenting on Giga TV, I wrote: "It is yet unclear whether both channels will start, when and on what satellite they will be launched. There are, of course, some Eutelsat transponders available for analogue transmissions. However, a Eutelsat-only strategy makes no sense at all without cable distribution ... Unfortunately, German cable networks are already crammed with other TV channels" [Sat-ND, 28.06.1996.]
...crammed with channels such as NBC Europe, one may add. In other words: DFA, with the take-over of NBC Europe, gains access to German cable networks for their project Giga TV.
NBC Europe: http://www.nbceurope.com/
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The company said that programming initially will be available to satellite users on Satcom C3, Transponder 24, reaching an estimated 3 million to 5 million people in the United States.
Patrick Mulvey, chief executive officer for the channel, hopes it eventually will be available on cable systems. He said the channel's main themes are "heroes, history and hardware."
"The military has played an important part in the heritage of the country," Mulvey said. "We're trying to convey to the American people world-wide [sic!] that people have made enormous sacrifices to their country to allow us to live the way we are today."
[The American people world-wide? Can't you Americans, especially the military, just stay where you belong, for instance in America? Thank you very much in advance.]
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The problem is about DirecTV's partner SkyPort which runs an analogue satellite service that will close down in September. Although being offered free DirecTV IRDs, up to 40,000 SkyPort customers defected to SkyPerfecTVeven though that required purchasing hardware costing nearly ¥60,000, reported Japanese monthly "Foresight."
"This is absolutely incorrect," Gareth C. C. Chang, chairman of DirecTV Japan Management Inc was quoted as saying. "We are proceeding very well in converting SkyPort subscribers to DirecTV." He added that more than 50 percent of the subscribers of its satellite broadcasting partner, SkyPort, had already converted to DirecTV. He expects up to 80 percent of SkyPort customers to switch to DirecTV by the end of September.
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An Italian, an Irishman and a Chinese fellow are hired at a construction site. The foreman points out a huge pile of sand and says to the Italian guy, "You're in charge of sweeping;" to the Irishman, "You're in charge of shovelling;" and to the Chinese guy, "And you're in charge of supplies. Now, I have to leave for a little while. I expect you guys to make a dent in that pile."
So the foreman goes away for a couple hours, and when he returns, the pile of sand is untouched. He says to the Italian, "Why didn't you sweep any of it?" The Italian replies, "I didn't have a broom. You said the Chinese guy was in charge of supplies, but he disappeared and I couldn't find him."
So then the foreman turn to the Irishman and asks why he didn't shovel. The Irishman replies, "I couldn't get myself a shovel. You left the Chinese guy in charge of supplies, but I couldn't find him."
The foreman is really ticked off now, and storms off toward the pile of sand looking for the Chinese guy. Just then, the Chinese guy springs out from a closet and yells: "SUPPLIES!"
Viper's Joke of the Week: http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Surf/3881/jokes.html
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Or have a look at http://www.lynet.de/~pck/mailer.html